Road trip

Hats off to the Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America and David A. Sampson, the group’s president and CEO, for aggressively engaging themselves this week in Florida’s property insurance debate.

It’s no secret that Floridians and their lawmakers are wrestling with the issue of affordable property insurance in the hurricane exposed state. And, with the state’s 2008 legislative session starting Monday, there will be no end to the political rhetoric over the issue in the weeks ahead, and with it accompanying newspaper headlines.

In fact, that all began earlier this year, with Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt appointing a Senate Select Committee on Property Insurance Accountability, charged with taking “testimony, under oath, from property and casualty insurance company executives about their pricing practices and their increased profits associated with escalating rates.”

So it was a good move by the PCI and Mr. Sampson to commission a poll of Florida likely voters about the property tax issue earlier this year, and to travel to Tallahassee this week to discuss the findings with Florida business leaders and news media.

Among the poll’s findings was that property insurance is the number two priority among those polled, ranking just behind property taxes and ahead of education, health care costs, crime and jobs.

The poll also revealed that 91% of Floridians agree that the state should help focus on reducing losses through risk mitigation such as controls over types of construction and building materials and where homes are built, while 75% feel long-term stabilization of insurance rates is more important than immediate rate relief.

There are public officials in Florida who are genuinely interested in finding a solution to this issue that would provide long-term stability from a vital private insurance market in the state. The PCI’s trip to Florida this week demonstrated an interest in working with them.

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